If you haven’t yet caught the Stranger Things bug, why not?
Stranger Things is the latest TV sensation from Netflix (yes, it is available on Netflix Malaysia) and it seems to be the talk of many social media pages since its premiere on July 15. It isn’t hard to see why, too, as the eight-episode series is intriguing, exciting and unexpected.
Set in the mid-1980s in a little town in Indiana, the show begins with the mysterious disappearance of 12-year-old Will (Noah Schnapp) in the middle of the night. Everyone assumes he’s just lost his way in the woods, or that he’s been taken by his estranged father, or he’s run away from home but his mother (Joyce Byers, played by Winona Ryder) and best friends know that there is more to the story than that.
The sleepy town soon begins to change when more people realise that really strange things are – and have been – happening right under their noses without their knowledge.
There’s also a bald-ish girl with dark secrets and a … thingy … walking around town, freaking everyone out.
If you aren’t yet convinced of Stranger Things‘ entertainment value even with all those good reviews out there, here are six more reasons why you should watch the show created by the Duffer twin brothers (Matt and Ross).
1. Winona Ryder is now an adult
Okay, so perhaps this isn’t the best reason to watch this show but Ryder – the darling of quirky indie films way back in the 1980s and 1990s – proves herself to be more than capable playing a single mother of two boys struggling to make ends meet. Ryder is so convincing as the panic-stricken woman anxious to have her youngest son back home that you forget she was once the annoying teenage goth girl in Beetlejuice.
Best bit: When Joyce goes a little crazy with an axe.
2. The light and music show
In Stranger Things, one of the ways the missing boy communicates with his family and friends is via the lights in his house. Nothing we haven’t seen before in movies and other supernatural TV shows, really, but it is still cool.
Also, if you’re a retro music buff, then you would probably love the show’s soundtrack. The opening theme is a synth-laden track that is both dramatic and captivating, and is the creation of US duo Survive (Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein), who also came up with a few new pieces for the series.
Apart from that, familiar tracks like Should I Stay Or Should I Go (The Clash), Elegia (New Order), I Melt You (Modern English) and Waiting For A Girl Like You (Foreigner) heard throughout the eight episodes help complete the 1980s feel of Stranger Things.
Best bit: Will singing Should I Stay Or Should I Go.
3. The comic genius that is Gaten Matarazzo
All the kids are alright in the show but Gaten Matarazzo is the one that stands out among the boy characters. He’s a real natural when it comes to being funny and it doesn’t even have anything to do with his funky baby teeth (his character, Dustin, explains the condition to some bullies in the show).
However, Dustin is not just the comic relief of Stranger Things; the boy brings his friends together (Lucas/Caleb McLaughlin and Mike/Finn Wolfhard) when things get out of hand and has a pretty good understanding of how the adult world works too.
He also loves to eat.
Best bit: ⇓
4. This guy’s hair (and other cool 1980s trends and references)
Actor Joe Keery plays the quintessential popular high school guy Steve Harrington, who has the hots for Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Mike’s sort of nerdy and pretty sister. Both Nancy and Steve start out as “non-essential” characters in the beginning, but as the story progresses so do their roles.
Oh yeah, Steve’s hair may seem a little ridiculous for today’s teenager but back in the 1980s, thick bouncy hair for men was all the rage.
What’s great about watching Stranger Things is the abundance of subtle 1980s pop culture references strewn about in each episode. There’s even a nod to E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, The Goonies, Aliens and more. No need to list them down here as that would spoil things for viewers.
Best bit: The first time we meet Barb (Shannen Purser) and her hair, thick glasses, ruffled blouse and “mom jeans”.
5. Eleven, who is “pretty good”
Eleven or EL (or “The Freak”) is the mysterious girl with the crew cut whom the three boys bump into while searching for their missing friend, Will. She is played by Millie Bobby Brown, an actress born in Spain to British parents, as her IMDB profile page notes.
Eleven has super powers and is the key to all the weird things that have been happening in town. However, she’s scared of something or someone so the boys keep her hidden in Mike’s basement, feeding her Eggos, explaining the rules of Dungeons & Dragons and trying to get her to fly a toy Millennium Falcon.
Best bit: When she walks out of a supermarket like a boss.
6. The Monster and Matthew Modine as the jerk in a suit
From the first scene viewers will know that The Monster is actually an alien but most of the essential characters in the show don’t know that until, well, in the last couple of episodes. Audiences only get to see the alien, nicknamed The Monster by the kids, in full view much later in the show but everything else about it – its nest, its powers and its sticky, icky weapon – is scary.
The Monster is played by Mark Steger while the jerk in a suit aka Dr Brenner/Papa is played by Matthew Modine, another indie film favourite of the 1980s and 1990s. Dr Brenner does not say much in this show but the less he says the creepier he becomes.
Best bit: When The Monster eats dinner.